Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » August 27th 2020, 4:24am

sixsix wrote:Thanks for the update - Lots of work. Nice to see the 2 of you 'having at it'.

Your Van front end / wheel pics had me laughing inside... at first I thought it was going to be a "Find the 5 Differences..."
To be truthful, I found 4 right off the bat.

I need to get out of the house - get a walk, shoot a neighbor... something.


Sixsix,

I love how you took the photo (5 differences). Here's another for you, with some more differences haha. Your options sounds entertaining! :geek:

Best,
Dylan
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Screen Shot 2020-08-26 at 9.25.55 PM.png
215/75R15 to 31x10.5R15 (Before Body Lift)
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Extra Info: 1987 Aerolite Resto.

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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Ironsides » August 27th 2020, 5:00pm

That's a real cool camper van.
Keep up the good work.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » August 30th 2020, 5:03am

Ironsides wrote:That's a real cool camper van.
Keep up the good work.


Hey Ironsides,

Thanks a lot! I'm glad you like it so far. We're excited to keep making progress on it. Lots of suprises haha...

Warmly,
Dylan & Vivian
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Extra Info: 1987 Aerolite Resto.

Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby icebrrg3rd » August 31st 2020, 5:07am

Have you driven it with the new springs? Are they just longer or are they stiffer? I had tried stiffer ones because of the V-8 I installed but swapped them back out for stock Astro ones due to the harsh ride. But I suppose your camper has a bit more weight than a stock Astro.

-Andrew
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » August 31st 2020, 4:53pm

icebrrg3rd wrote:Have you driven it with the new springs? Are they just longer or are they stiffer? I had tried stiffer ones because of the V-8 I installed but swapped them back out for stock Astro ones due to the harsh ride. But I suppose your camper has a bit more weight than a stock Astro.

-Andrew


Hey Andrew,


I imagine the harsh ride was disappointing... How much did the V8 affect your ride height, and which springs did you try?

I drove Brewtus around the block a few times (the van is still very much under construction) with the new springs in and the ride was noticeably firmer. Right now the camper weighs 3,000 lbs less than when Vivian and I bought it (completely stripped to the frame except for the front cab portion). I am hoping the ride is a little softer once the camper portion is rebuilt and weighing more.

The 2500 Express springs I installed are nearly the exact same length and outer diameter as my stock Astro springs. I have attached a photo comparing the stock Astro springs and the 2500 Express springs side by side for you to see the differences (the photo is at an angle, which distorts sizes a little bit). It seems the stock Astro coils are wound more with a lower spring rate and the 2500 Express coils are wound less with a much higher spring rate. I read in another post the 3500 Express springs were even stiffer, so I am glad to have found these out of a 2500 Express. I am super excited about the 2 inches of suspension lift for $40 ($20 per spring from a junkyard).


Best,
Dylan
Attachments
Old and New Coils (Astro).jpg
Astro Coil Spring vs. 2500 Express Coil Spring
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Extra Info: 1987 Aerolite Resto.

Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 2nd 2020, 10:35pm

Final front lift height achieved! Here is the side-by-side comparing original height and lifted height (2500 coils, 31-inch BFG's, and 2-inch body pucks).
Attachments
Screen Shot 2020-09-02 at 3.32.13 PM.png
Before & After
Last edited by Brewtus on September 3rd 2020, 4:15am, edited 1 time in total.
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Extra Info: 1987 Aerolite Resto.

Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby icebrrg3rd » September 3rd 2020, 12:21am

Brewtus wrote:
icebrrg3rd wrote:Have you driven it with the new springs? Are they just longer or are they stiffer? I had tried stiffer ones because of the V-8 I installed but swapped them back out for stock Astro ones due to the harsh ride. But I suppose your camper has a bit more weight than a stock Astro.

-Andrew


Hey Andrew,

I imagine the harsh ride was disappointing... How much did the V8 affect your ride height, and which springs did you try?...

Dylan


Well, I believe the old springs were original, and quite tired, even with spring spacers it still was low and bouncy. I didn't want extra height (RWD, I'm not off-roading) so I found similar height springs, I believe from a 1500 pickup. I did buy new compared to your junkyard ones which might be more relaxed, so that probably didn't help me. So I then got new stock Astro ones and they work great. Good height, not too soft, I like them.

-Andrew
81 Yamaha Maxim 650XJ 650cc 68k mi
91 Chevy Astro 5L 5-speed, Ford 9" 265k mi
02 Yamaha Road Star 1600cc 27k mi
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 3rd 2020, 6:28am

Andrew,

Oh cool, and I'm glad your new ones are working out so well. :dance:

Best,
Dylan
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Extra Info: 1987 Aerolite Resto.

Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Ironsides » September 4th 2020, 2:30pm

Nice job, looks tough and appears to be made that way.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby AstroWill » September 4th 2020, 11:21pm

Brewtus wrote:We are going for a toaster oven, convection cooktop, and small fridge. Hopefully there will be plenty of space left.


Just be careful with those convection tops, make sure to have a sturdy cover on it as some are quite easy to crack.

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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 6th 2020, 10:29pm

I'm glad you think so, Ironsides!

Hey AstroWill, thank you for the tip on the convection tops. I'll be sure to get build a sturdy cover.
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Extra Info: 1987 Aerolite Resto.

Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 6th 2020, 10:30pm

I re-took the comparison photo of the before and after lift because the first one was a bit distorted. This shows the lift more accurately!
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Final Front Lift Comparison (Verified).png
Final Front Lift Comparison
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby MechBob » September 7th 2020, 1:35am

I commend you on rebuilding an Aerolite.They had issues and most went to the crushers.I will say it is never a great idea to raise the front suspension,2wd or awd,just by "taller springs", or "keys"(for AWD), with out other modifications.You are putting different stresses on the suspension parts.Just an opinion from an old guy mechanic.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 7th 2020, 5:42am

MechBob wrote:I commend you on rebuilding an Aerolite.They had issues and most went to the crushers.I will say it is never a great idea to raise the front suspension,2wd or awd,just by "taller springs", or "keys"(for AWD), with out other modifications.You are putting different stresses on the suspension parts.Just an opinion from an old guy mechanic.



Hey Bob,

We appreciate your praise on rebuilding our Aerolite! What sorts of issues are you familiar with? I haven't read too much about them and am always interested in more info! I was hesitant on stiffer springs, myself. I am concerned about how much pressure is being put on the ball joints now. I suppose it will be a trial and error sort of deal. I saw Journey's Off-Road lift for the '96+ Astros includes ball joint spacers. I am wondering if ball joint spacers would be beneficial with the stiffer 2500 coil springs. Do you have any input?

Thanks!
Dylan
Last edited by Brewtus on September 7th 2020, 5:51am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 7th 2020, 5:48am

Finished welding a new cat and muffler to a cutting of the old exhaust pipe. Hoping to finish relocating the hangers, cutting the outlet to size, and installing it onto the van tomorrow.
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Screen Shot 2020-09-06 at 10.47.14 PM.png
Shortened Exhaust System
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 13th 2020, 5:15am

I finally got all of the moldy plywood base separated from the frame, which means Brewtus is caught up to where @Zool had last updated us on his Aerolite! I found a groovy sticker on the fuel tank, which has a date stamp of 6/88. The company name was "Custom Gas Tanks" in El Monte, CA. I searched the address and the building now houses a new company called "SoCal Billet, Inc." The stickers doesn't have any writing where the fuel capacity should be. I was hoping to get a certain number, but I'll keep estimating until one day Vivian and I run out of fuel lol.

Having all of this room to look around is a blast! The rear end is an 8.5-inch 10-bolt GM with a 3.08 gear ratio. I also discovered the frame extension covers the access to the rear leaf hanger bolts. I plan to cut a hole in order to add the lift hangers I ordered for it.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby DriveDog » September 13th 2020, 5:57am

3.08, wow.

Induction? Instead of LPG cooktop or in addition?

Planning on ammonia fridge or compressor?

I hope you'll keep updating, this is fun to follow. Idaho, brrrrr. Best of luck.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby CopperFiremistCopperFiremist is online! » September 13th 2020, 5:57am

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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Leeann_93 » September 13th 2020, 4:16pm

3.08? On an RV? Wow. Should at least be 3.73 and, possibly, 4.11.

But now you get to build the way you want, with the layout just for you.
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Re: Brewtus: 1987 Astro Aerolite Rebuild

Postby Brewtus [OP] » September 13th 2020, 7:58pm

DriveDog wrote:3.08, wow.

Induction? Instead of LPG cooktop or in addition?

Planning on ammonia fridge or compressor?

I hope you'll keep updating, this is fun to follow. Idaho, brrrrr. Best of luck.



Hey DriveDog,

I am surprised by 3.08, too! Vivian and I are going to swap to a lower gear ratio (higher number). If the engine is what it says it is (1986 LB4 w/TBI Z-code), then the peak torque is 2400RPM. Our desired cruising speed is 55-60MPH and our tire diameter is 31 inches. I did some math and determined a gear ratio of around 3.69 for peak torque at 60MPH or 4.03 for peak torque at 55MPH.

Yes on induction instead of LPG. The plan is for a large solar array on the roof along with the original Onan 3KW on-board generator to power utilities, which will likely include a compressor fridge. We certainly plan to continue updating! Idaho certainly can get chilly... I grew up in Minnesota though, so I don't mind the winters here too much.

Best,
Dylan
Last edited by Brewtus on September 14th 2020, 12:13am, edited 2 times in total.
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